Travel Agency Coaching and The Future of Travel
In this interview with Greg Roedersheimer on the Suburban Folk Podcast, Nicole O'Sullivan shares her personal journey in the Travel Industry and how this lead to launching Birds Eye View Consulting.
Nicole also provides valuable advice for what makes a good travel agent, and how they can sharpen their skills during this "global reset".
Health, travel, finance, parenting, and home improvement. This is the Suburban Folk podcast
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Greg Roedersheimer: Welcome to the Suburban Folk podcast. I'm your host Greg, today is one of my favorite topics, travel. Lately, of course, there hasn't been much to talk about due to the global lockdown because of COVID-19. At some point, those restrictions will be lifted, and we'll have to figure out the best practices for our safety, as well as the safety across the world. We also discuss travel agencies both those that deal in the business as well as vacationers that are interacting with travel agents. My guest is Nicole O'Sullivan. She's a dedicated business consultant, coach, and mentor to travel agency business owners. As a thirteen-year veteran of the industry and former team leader within Australia's biggest travel franchise, Flight Centre, Nicole has gone on to head up Business Development Strategies for the USA's fastest-growing travel consulting firms. Her typical clients have experienced outstanding business transformations under her expert guidance. With a rapidly growing team behind her, Nicole is truly motivated by connecting with clients on a personal level, exploring their motivators, and helping them unlock new levels of personal and professional success. Nicole, thanks so much for joining the show today. I thought that we could kick it off by describing for everybody the scheduling process you and I went through specifically we were scheduling about a month ago, so put us into the beginning middle of March, you needed to cancel because that is right when all of the lockdowns started to occur in particular in the US and of course you're based in Australia. So can you describe for us what you had to go through to get back home and get everything where it needed to be so you weren't left stranded in the midst of all of the COVID issues that are going on?
Nicole O'Sullivan: Yeah, absolutely. So, right, you're right Greg, it was, I was bummed that we had to change our, our date but it all happened so fast. It was, I was pretty nonchalant about the whole thing. I thought oh, you know, I've got a flight, not till May. I'll be fine. It'll blow over. It'll all be okay. And I guess I woke up one morning and I had about five missed calls and messages on my phone from my family and travel friends in Australia saying, you need to get home now and I thought, Oh, okay. Maybe this is a little bit more serious than what it was. And so I was in Arizona, I was based in, well, I was based in Northern California. And then I've done a little side trip to a business in Arizona. So I was actually in Arizona, but I had all of my things in Northern California. So literally within, it was a like a 24-hour turnaround. I packed my things in Arizona, I flew back to Santa Rosa and I grabbed my things and I was in LAX within that timeframe and on a flight back home back to Melbourne and yeah, and then got locked down for two weeks because once you arrive, arrive into Australia, you are then in quarantine, single, like self, self-isolation. So yeah, it was an interesting experience the, you know, the airport being completely ghost town, especially LAX. If anyone's been through LAX it's normally, you know, a buzz, hustle and bustle airport and to have no one around was weird and a bit of a reality check, actually about what was happening because I was hitting the sand a little bit feeling. It was a, a little bit more hyped up than what it was. But yeah, and now it's, now it is what it is, isn't it? It's a kind of a reality check.
Greg Roedersheimer: Yeah, it's becoming more real every single day and I'm based in Virginia, so the other side of the country. And California seems to be one of the first to lockdown. So that just realization I guess, of it making its way to all the states. Yeah, I was maybe about a week or so afterward. And like you said, I've been through LAX one time and it is a crazy place to be. So that's got to be extra strange to just be going right to the airport. One of the quick question before we get into some of the overall travel. Is it every single country that you would travel in from into Australia that you would be quarantine or were there particular countries that meant you would have to self isolate for 14 days?
Nicole O'Sullivan: Look, Australia has taken a really strong stance. So any flight that you arrive into, no matter what country you're visiting, you would need to be self-isolating. I guess the challenge was that it was a little bit non, they didn't have a way of policing that that was what was happening. So, and I guess the virus spreading, and so, they put it down to international travelers arriving which was the carriers. So now there is a new thing in a place where if you're now are arriving in Australia, you are self-quarantining in a hotel that is under lockdown. So, no going outside, no mingling with other people. So I kind of was lucky that I'm that, that strictness about I was, you know, I wanted to play my part in the community and I did the right thing. I stayed in my house for two weeks. I didn't go outside, didn't even check the mailbox, you know, I did the right thing. So, you know, but we had to be sure that everyone else was doing that, which I felt that maybe it was a little hard to police if that was happening, but I'm not sure if any I mean, is America doing the same thing like?
Greg Roedersheimer: Oh, that is the recommendation and gosh, it seems like the information’s changing all the time. So, I feel like I have started to read more requirements around depending on where you're traveling from that you will be quarantined in a similar way that you're describing. There's no volunteering about it. That's what's going to happen and then you would be released at some point afterward. So for people listening, don't quote me officially on that because it is fluid, how things are changing day over day, but it sounds very similar to what you're describing. But at any rate, happy that you made it home safe and sound. As you said, did the socially appropriate thing of staying away from everybody to do our part, like you said, So, let's go back for your history. Can you tell us what your background is in travel and then some specifics about your consulting group and how you interact with travel agencies?
Nicole O'Sullivan: Yeah, absolutely. So I have worked officially in the travel industry for going on 13 and a half years now. I, I had a real passion for travel since I was able to get on an airplane and fly I guess, so as soon as I turned 21 I was out of here. I was like, see ya. I'm going so I, I had my uni degree university degree of graphic design and I thought you know what I'm gonna go and live abroad and see how I go in the graphic space and I guess once I got the travel bug, I loved it and felt that you know, this is a career that I wanted to pursue. So when I eventually came back to Australia, I lived in Northern Ireland for a little while and tried to live with a graphic designer and thought I don't want to have this life. I really, I feel like I, you know every time people would say wow, you're from Australia. I used to talk about it so passionately and they said you should you'd be awesome in tourism like you are passionate about you know, travel and I was like, oh, that's a cool idea, I never really thought of that. Yeah, like maybe back home to Australia about a year after and got a job in the travel industry as a travel agent and that was, that's the start of history, really so I worked five years in Australia within a major organization in Australia called Flight Centre. So they, you know, they're dominating business in travel over here in Aus and so I worked there in Australia for five years and what I did was I worked my way through being a consultant to becoming an assistant team leader to becoming a team leader. And when I became a team leader of the business I, it was a, it was a fairly new business and it was very much around you know, Flight Centre is like Starbucks it's the best way I can describe. In Australia, you go to a corner store and there's a Flight Centre on every corner. So we over saturate the market so much. So what makes my agency stand out to the one that's down the street. So I guess the answer to that is is how you treat your customer and how you treat your people in your business. And it took me a little while to get that actual concept. But I just, I did it. And then within two years, I turned that business into a $150,000 profit store. So that was, that was a pretty awesome achievement. And then I had this burning passion with America. Every time I go on vacation, I would fly to the USA. And so I thought I need to move here. I don't care how I'm gonna do it, but I want to live here. So I'm very fortunate that flights and I had a business in the USA, so I asked to transfer across and I then moved into the wholesale space. So now, I'm not selling direct to the consumer, I'm now selling to the travel agent to sell to the consumer. So that I lived in, I moved to Las Vegas, which that was pretty cool. I became a working girl in Vegas if you get my joke, and yeah, it was awesome. It was great to live. But I was promised this team of five people that we were going to open up the West-Coast branch because it was primarily East-Coast, which was the branding. And I, I, yeah, I moved to Vegas to open up that department, but only ended up being just myself. So I thought, Okay, well, I don't have a team to run. So I just need to still travel. So within six months of that, I became the number that in the top consultants of the brand, and everyone was saying, why, how did, how are you doing this? And I guess I just created a method of really listening to the travel agent and getting to understand their customer because, at the end of the day, my job was to make them look like the superhero and get them to get the booking. So without them getting the booking, then I was letting them down. So I just kind of took a different approach. And just yeah, knuckled in got them to answer specific questions. For example, if you call my business, if you call me up, I need you to have these five questions. About your customer, if we don't have these five things, at least knowing about your customer, then I'm not going to help you get this, we're not going to ever get this booking. So my job is to get you the booking. So let's get these things done and then call me back when you've got these and I promise you, we'll you know work towards getting that booking. So that was my secret sauce to my Vegas adventure. And then I didn't notice, but I guess I was being listened to all my calls. So people were listening in and figuring out what I was doing. And I got approached to become a sales coach, which meant that I had to move over to the east coast and work over there and do, Yeah, sales coaching. So I thought, oh my god, me. Are you serious? Okay. All right. So I packed up my little PT Cruiser and I drove from Las Vegas to New Jersey.
Greg Roedersheimer: Wow.
Nicole O'Sullivan: And which was pretty awesome. And I did sales coaching for two years. And that was, that was my aha moment. My, my light bulb where I went, this is why I'm supposed to be doing what I'm doing. And I felt that you know, the things that we're able to do for people in terms of showing them how to connect to customers, it wasn't about, you know, the commission that they were earning. It wasn't about you know. Yeah focusing or down getting a great score on a call when you're when you're being listened to and getting coached. It was really about saying, did you get the booking? No, okay, well let's pull this back let's listen to the language you're using. What, did you hear that, did you hear when the customer said this. Let's listen to the words let's dial it in and tune fine-tune the language and the tones and everything like that, that was we're talking about with a customer, you know, either face to face or over the phone or via email. So that was, that was a pretty awesome job. And I felt that I was making a difference. You know, I was talking to people who had been in the travel industry for over 35 years and you know, they're sitting, there going, not only have you just opened my eyes to so many things, but you've impacted my life. And I'm like, oh, wow, that's amazing. Thanks. So yeah, it was that was a pretty fulfilling role. And then I guess, yeah, I ended up being told that that department was going to be closed. And so I had a choice to go and look after a business that was probably the worst performing business in Liberty Travel, which is the USA business that I was working with. And they were online only. So, they only dealt with customers who were live-chatting them or calling in, so they didn't have any face to face customers. So within the organization, they were taking the most amount of inquiry per person per day, and converting the least. So it was a department that we’re questioning whether they kept open or not. And they said well, do you want to see what you can do with it? And I was like, okay, so I jumped in with both feet. I learned about the people in the business and why it was not doing, why, why it wasn't performing. And it came down to belief and that I felt that customers were just wasting their time. They weren't serious. So just you know, shopping around and you know, why would they ever book with me and all that sort of thing. So I worked on the belief system, I worked on changing our, our views on the customer. And so this was probably my pivotal moment of everything that I'd done in sales coaching, I thought, okay if I don't do well here, I'm going to look like a fraudster. So, I, I fought all the elements in, and I yeah, we turn that business around within six months. So that became the number one most improved in the whole of the country. So that was pretty epic. And it was really down to the people. So I guess the rest of my journey is you know, moving back to Australia doing different roles and different parts of the business. So I've done area leading. I've done worked in crews. I've worked in, you know, the sales coaching. I've done consulting. I've done so many different things but I guess this is why I've created the business that I have. And, and what I specialize now is in really working with tribal businesses on how to manage and lead and communicate with their team and their customers so that they can result in growing their revenue and profits quickly. And how I do that is I leverage off the five pillars of emotional intelligence. And that is really where we learn quickly to adapt, adjust, and respond to times, especially right now in rapid change, that we can move away from all the guesswork that we have, it all comes down to our people in our business, and discovering that 85% of our sales and leadership success comes down to empathy, and how 99% of the business problems can be avoided. So that's really what I've, I've, I've mastered, honestly and, and coaching teams is important to me. It's really about coaching leaders as well around how to get extraordinary results from your people every single day. It doesn't matter who it is that you have in your business, you can turn that around. And so that's really why I started that because I felt that with the experience that I've had, within the 13 years, it's not just been selling travel to the consumer, it's so many different areas. And I've had pretty good broad experience on how to see different areas of the business. And now how do I now make that as one whole offer that I can give people to, to boost their self-confidence to you know, work around listening to cues of customers, there are so many different things around how to build a business. And yeah, that's really Oh, a long story. Sorry, but it's true. I'm so super passionate about how people can make an amazing impact on their business and their life by applying the things that we talk about on a day to day basis.
Greg Roedersheimer: That gives us a very good foundation, I think to work from, for the questions that I have. And to your point about empathy. I imagine in travel, it's something that everybody probably assumes they can do on their own, maybe more so than other industries. So I would make sense that when you're coaching people, they have to focus on the cues and empathize with the needs of the customer. Because I would assume, if you get too far to one side or the other, like you said, on the phone part, somebody may just hang up and say, Okay, I can go, use fill in the blank online resource, and just do it all myself. They're looking for convenience and you got to be able to convey that. Is that kind of on the right track?
Nicole O'Sullivan: Well, especially these days, I mean, you know, with technology as well, people can book a vacation with a click of a button on their cell phone, you know, it's not, it's not hard to book travel. So, you have to understand and believe that the reason why people come to a travel expert is that, they're still unsure they doubt something you know, it's about us understanding that there is a doubt with that customer. That's the reason why they've even picked up the phone to call you or they've driven to your location and walked into your business. You know, no one wakes up in the morning and says, I'm just going to waste someone's time today, and I'm just gonna you know, well, that's a belief that I truly, you know, even breathe, you know, no one does that. So it's really about understanding the why and it's not about going through the questions and saying, Yeah, I asked how many people. Yeah, I asked the dates of birth. Yeah, I asked, you know how long they're going for, like, that's the general basic stuff that you would have to fill out online anyway. But now it's about buying, what does this, what can I offer this customer that is going to show trust, it's going to, you know, create that bond. You know, I've got, I've got customer I mean, I haven't sold in Australia for God, like nearly eight or eight or nine years. And the thing is, I still have clients today that are still my friends and still contact me even though I'm not their travel expert anymore. They still reach out and say, Hey, Nic, what do you think about this, this is where we're going to think of traveling next time, any tips? You know, like that, you become part of their journey in their story. And you know, I, here's the thing, Greg, it's like, you know, you have your hairdresser, you have your, your tech guy, you have you know, you have people on speed dial, your lawyer, your all these, your doctor, all these things that you have on speed dial and I say to my guys, I want you to be in this top speed dials, who's the travel person that they call when they think of a vacation, I want them to think of you. So it's not about now, it's about the future of becoming part of this customer's journey and I think that is something that the internet will never be able to do. And that is really what makes the difference of a, of a travel expert.
Greg Roedersheimer: I think that also emphasizes trust, right? Of course, making a good impression when you first have somebody there and then hopefully you're building that sense of trust so that when they're ready for their next vacation, and the next and the next, that your that starting point that they can go to. Well, let me put you on the spot a little bit with your travel through the US because I always find this interesting. What would you say, is the best places that you have been able to visit while either living here or just in your overall travels?
Nicole O'Sullivan: I've been so lucky with the USA, because of my job, I think, I think I'm up to 26 states out of 50. So, I think I'm doing all right. Like, oh, my God, there are so many unique places. I mean, I'm a big fan of Nashville I'm gonna say and just the southern states. I feel that you know, I'm a big foodie as well. And I think the fun part about my travel from Jersey, from Vegas to Jersey was that we downloaded the Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives app and we and the rule was we couldn't eat at a chain restaurant, we had to eat off, the app like so we had to find these spots and that was the coolest thing I've ever done and had some of the most incredible food I've ever had in my life by just following this off the beaten track, little places that were hidden gems along the way, so, yeah, I would say doing the road trip was awesome. Mike, I'm so glad I drove and didn't do any other way. You know, so it was uh, yeah, and you could tell instantly you're in a different state, you know, it's like the scenery changes every single state you drive through. So it was awesome.
Greg Roedersheimer: That's the way to go. I went from Salt Lake City, Utah, where I was living right out of college, back to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and I should have done what you're describing, but I basically just did you know, 10 to 15-hour drives for three days and made it on the interstate and really kind of squandered what could have been a bigger experience. I'm glad to hear that you took advantage of that trip and had something already planned because I didn't do that. So even getting us back into what's going on now in the lockdowns and of course, the travel industry is going to be hit as hard as any other industry I would imagine unnecessarily good or bad. Although right now, it's not good. What does that look like right now and what do you foresee the landscape of travel looking like let's say six months or a year from now?
Nicole O'Sullivan: To me, knowing what I know about emotional intelligence is that I try not to think too far ahead. To be honest, I think it's day by day, week by week, but it's clear that the travel industry is not going to be the same as it was a couple of months ago. But that's okay, I feel that well it's in the midst of change travel is the craziest of change industries as it is anyway. So, you know, we've undergone so many different things, you know, terror attacks to natural disasters to outbreaks already. I mean, remember the Zika virus and all those things that happened not long ago. So I guess what I can, you know, in my opinion, I guess is what I can see happening over the next few months is that just like 911 changed, the way we checked in for flights in security measures is that this is gonna probably bring a little bit more of a hygiene factor, isn't it? It's gonna say, Have you had a checkup, you know, have you got any symptoms, have you you know, and that's going to potentially influence how we are traveling now. So I feel like that's gonna be something to keep in mind of extra things to be prepared about. When we are getting ready to travel again, when everything is up and running again, it's not going to be the same. But there's nothing to fear about that. I guess it's just going to be an evolving of where are we? What, what have we learned over this outbreak and how do we now move forward, and it will make us stronger, as it always does. It's just, it's just turbulent right now and it's and it's hard to understand what is going to happen. And I guess that where is where fear does come in because it is unknown, and it is uncertain. And as human beings, we need certainty. And when we don't have it, we start to tell ourselves stories, and sometimes that can go down the fear path, and there's no, there's no good ending to fear. So it's, it's just about staying positive and just knowing that we can get through this and we will and yeah, it's gonna be a little different, but we'll adapt and we'll just and that's what we have to just keep in mind, you know.
Greg Roedersheimer: And you mentioned having experience in the cruise industry. So I have to ask you, if you have a perspective on how they will be impacted because, of course, they've been front and center in the news. We've heard of all these ships that have been docked basically, indefinitely in the water. Do you foresee similar iterations specifically for cruises? Or could it be a little direr the changes they're going to go through?
Nicole O'Sullivan: Oh, look, you know cruise is, is interesting. I feel that there are so many different brands of the cruise, and it's almost like they're getting a little bit of a bad rap out there. And it always seems to be the same brand, which tarnishes a lot of other brands with the same brush which isn't true. You know, I think that what this has shown is that those cruise lines that have 3000 plus passengers on board are gonna probably look at what is that going to look like for future when we're out of this because there are other cruise lines, that have fewer passengers, which means that you've got more space between you and the next passenger as you're walking down the hallway, you know, these are the sort of things that I think they're going to have to maybe adapt and learn from those other cruise lines that are smaller but have a really good way of keeping that that social distancing as it was, anyway, some of them are actual features of that, you know, I remember being on a ship inspection and them saying, Hey, you know that one of our benefits of this is that, you know, our staff know you by name because there are enough people on there to know who you are, you know, but it means that you're not squished into a dining hall with thousands of thousands of other people. So maybe it's something like that, and maybe we'll transform into how do we be on board a beautiful ship and seeing these beautiful places because cruise lines are phenomenal. It's a great way to travel. You only have to unpack once, you go to all these different destinations. It's fabulous, the food's generally fantastic. Everything's great about cruising. So this is just about their levels of hygiene and how they're going to uplift that even more because I feel like that's pretty clear, you know, ship inspections that everyone that I've been on, or been on a cruise there is they are adamant about hand sanitizing and keeping clean and oh, you know, like, I can't tell you how many times you see a buffet getting changed over and over and over with different food, you know, they're very, very on top of it. So I just think that it's just a little bit of a bad press at the moment. And, you know, they've been through some crazy times as it is, but they'll bounce back and cruising is a phenomenal way to travel. And I just feel like maybe the bigger cruise lines can take some ideas from the ones that are, you know, the 1500 to 2000 passenger, you know, cruisers and see what they do. Maybe that's all they need to do is just downsize slightly, but we'll see.
Greg Roedersheimer: I was actually on a cruise at the beginning of February. We were on Disney and of course, everything hadn't unfolded as it hadn't. Well, about a couple weeks or so after that. But yeah, they in particular, more so than any other ship I'd ever been on had these crazy self-washing handwashing machines in any of the kids’ areas to make it as easy as possible for them to stay clean. You were required to have these handwashing stations in the dining rooms. I can't say I've seen that in any of the other ships that I've ever been on. So I'll at least say kudos to Disney that it seemed like they were maybe a little bit ahead of some of the other experiences I have had. And also, as you mentioned, about a way to travel where you're only unpacking once and you can see a lot of things within a particular vacation. My kids are age three and five. So that's why that way of traveling for us right now is very attractive because it's hard to travel with kids, that are that young. So you either stick with the local beach vacations, which there's nothing wrong with that, certainly but if you're trying to go out and see some other cultures, places, things like that, then it is certainly unattractive way to go. So I am going to be interested to see how that all evolves in the next ten, six months to a year.
Nicole O'Sullivan: And like I said, I think that there are so many brands out there and it only seems to be a similar brand that keeps getting mentioned. And it's like the main old cruise lines promise. There are others out there that are very much not in that category. So yeah, I agree with you. I think that cruising is one of the biggest growing travel sectors in the industry at the moment, and I can't see that, deterring them too much. You know, once you're a cruiser, it's like, you'll go back and you'll do more and you'll see other cruise lines, etc. So yeah, I don't see it crippling them too much. It'll just be a little bit of a setback, but they'll be okay.
Greg Roedersheimer: I think I had read that bookings for 2021 were already on the increase. Now I'm sure some of that is people having to rebook what they've already had. But it also seems to indicate that it's not going anywhere anytime soon.
Nicole O'Sullivan: Yeah. No way. And you know if you're a savvy traveler I think it's right now is about talking to our travel experts get onto the phone to them because there are some incredible deals out there for 2021 travel and you know, I can, this is again my opinion and my prediction but I feel that the yield pricing so I don't know if you can remember a little while back, Greg, but I know from flying from Australia to New York was approximately $2500 minimum to fly to New York. Right now, before COVID-19 hit, you can fly to New York from Melbourne for you know, $1200, maybe sometimes even $980 or something like that. That is phenomenal. We've never seen prices like that. And that's because you know, the travel industry sector was booming. Now with it not being you know, all the flights being grounded, etc. They're going to need to make some of that back. So I can tell you now that that yield is going to go through the roof, we're going to go back to those pricing those prices. So if you see prices now get onto it. Because once it's all back, up and running, you're going to miss out on those on those fares. So you know, don't cancel your trip, postpone your trips. And that way when you can have those deposits already done, and you just have to take advantage of what you've already booked.
Greg Roedersheimer: When I know for some of the trips that we have already had to postpone. There are even incentives that are being put on them to make sure you don't cancel some pretty nice incentives and to your point. So the theme is my wife is a big, big Disney fan. So not only did we do the Disney Cruise, but we were looking to do a long weekend at Disney World, actually this month, which is not going to happen. So we just for fun, we're checking what flights were looking like in the next three months, six months, or so on. I don't remember how much we originally booked for but one of the budget airlines called Spirit they had a one-way ticket for $17 at 1.00
Nicole O'Sullivan: Oh, wow. That's so terrible.
Greg Roedersheimer: Yeah, so I'm sure those will not stay at that price and we can't just yet for something like that, but we're, I'm seeing what you're describing.
Nicole O'Sullivan: Yeah, hundred percent and it'll change it'll, once it's all back, up and running and it will, it will change because they all need to make that money back somehow. So the yield price will go through the roof you just wait.
Greg Roedersheimer: So we kicked it off with how you advise travel agents to get a rapport and of course, make sure that they are making the sale when they have a new client on the phone or in person. What do you tell the consumer the value is in using a travel agency as opposed to going and booking everything yourself?
Nicole O'Sullivan: Well, I guess right now, you can see that having a travel expert is key. Travel experts provide expertise, help in times of need. And it's really about the experience like a lot of them have either been to the destination have, you know, someone who has been if they haven't been themselves, I mean it's physically impossible to have traveled to every single place on earth and said we think a hotel but it is about the consumer understanding that it's not about is a travel expert gonna charge me more. It's not about that. They've got to look at value and I guess this is where it's a catch 22 for the customer and the and the travel expert is about saying the value is not a price, there was a feeling and a feeling is it could mean that I could tell you, Greg, that knowing what I just know now about you and your family, with your kids and your wife and you're into Disney. It's really about me understanding that aspect of it. And so what it is Greg is about really understanding you as a customer. Your family as a customer, it's about me emerging myself into your dreams about what you expect from this vacation, and it's about me, then matching those expectations to be able to make the dream come true. So that when you're on vacation, all you have to worry about is what you need to pack. We do everything else for you. And, again, as I said before, you could book it online yourself, you know enough about it, you could go and do it. But what if you went to an expert? What if they could tell you something that you might not have known? And I think that that's where the value lies. Like I said, value is not a price, value is someone be willing to pay more even because it means the most to them. And that's what travel experts need to dive into is to understand the customer more than the surface level. You know, people come it's like when you walk into a store and they say, Oh, hey, are you looking to buy a pair of jeans today? Oh, yeah, I am just browsing. Thanks. So, you know, and you're walking around the shop like Oh, stop following me, you know like that, you know because I guess they come at you with that sale and it's like, ah, do you want to buy this and this is what the ideal is and you're like, Okay, cool, no worries. I'm just gonna, I'm just gonna go and have a look myself. But what it is is about going. Imagine if they came up to you and said, Hey, Greg, how are you today? Oh, so what? Is there anything that you're looking for? in particular? Like what brings you in today? Tell me a little bit about what you're looking for. And you're like, oh, I'm just looking for a pair of jeans. Awesome. Well, tell me a little about your jeans like do you want them to fit this and your if that was the consultation, it would feel more inviting it would feel more like it wasn't about just getting the sale. It's and I think that's where customers can probably vouch for the fact that sometimes they just feel like a number they feel like Oh great, they took my money and then I'm and then I'm nothing to them. And that's where the opportunity is from a travel experts perspective is to show that it's not just about getting the sale and I'm going to share something with you actually, where this is something that I talk about all the time and I think that with choice, we've all got a choice of how we book or purchase a vacation. And here's the thing, I look at it from this perspective that because there is so much choice, essentially what your customer is doing is they're interviewing you. So they're interviewing you to say, Are you the right person for the job? Are you gonna satisfy my needs? Are you going to be the employer that I need or the employee that I need that's going to shine bright when I need them to shine bright? So when you think of it from that perspective, you think to yourself, when I go to a job interview, I don't go with the job with the idea of going for a job and working for one day. I want to go and create a career in this job. So I want our travel experts to look at that to say your customers are interviewing you for a job for a lifetime, not for a one-off. So how are you going to be the employer, employee, sorry, that stands out the most for that person to keep hiring you and keep hiring you and keep hiring you? And then it could mean sometimes that you work for voluntary work, it could mean that you work for minimum wage, but what you're doing is, is that eventually, you're going to get that massive vacation. And they're going to end up telling people about you because you become now they're in their speed dial. So it's like when they're sitting down at a table with their family and friends at a family barbecue, and they're talking about travel, oh, imagine them telling all their family and friends about you. And now all of a sudden, you're getting hired by other people. And I think that that's the concept that I love to bring to travel experts to say, this is the impact that you can have on people when you just look at it from that perspective. Because Yeah, we want jobs forever. We don't want a one day job.
Greg Roedersheimer: Also connecting something that you mentioned about, Hey, everybody can't have traveled everywhere. The other snowball effect I imagine you would get in retaining your customers is the feedback after they've come back. Now, of course, if it's bad feedback, that may mean they don't trust you, but if it's somewhere you haven't gone and there's the trust going both ways, then you'll know whether or not some of the recommendations you had are good for somebody else's wanting to go somewhere. So it just makes that network that much bigger, which can increase your authority in a particular area or just travel in general.
Nicole O'Sullivan: Oh, absolutely. It's that, It's that human to human connection. I think that's something that, especially during COVID-19, I don't know about you, but I am sick of talking to my cat. I want a
Greg Roedersheimer: Yeah, right.
Nicole O'Sullivan: You know, I'm ordering things on Amazon just so I can have a delivery got you to knock at my door. You know, I think that having that human to human factor is so important. So don't fear that follow up call when they get back from vacation and calling them up and say, you know, I asked three questions my first question is, tell me everything, I want to know what was your wow moment on your vacation? The second question I asked is, what is the next place that you're thinking of traveling to now? And the third question I ask is, I hope that you enjoyed my services. I would love it if you could refer me to a family, family member, or friend. And they're the three questions that I would always ask a customer when they arrive back from their vacation because it's just creating that job. Yeah, for the future.
Greg Roedersheimer: Makes sense. So that way they are thinking about it. And again, expanding your network. What is the size of the agencies, that you're typically dealing with? Because in my mind, I think of most travel agents I've interacted with generally being their entity. Is that the most common or does it tend to be a group of folks that make up a travel agency?
Nicole O'Sullivan: Yeah, there are few different ways is what we call con-socios. So, they have a travel network of the group. So they'll have people that are remote agents, so they work for themselves, but they're part of the con-socio family. So it means that they can use their products and services etc, etc, to be able to sell on-sell to their customer. So I mean, honestly, I work with generally boutique, smaller agencies to anywhere between 35 and 50 people that work in the organization and sometimes, you know, opportunities to work for a little bit bigger entities but right now I feel that those that could benefit from those coaching sessions and from having me come in and my business's name Bird's Eye View. So the way I look at it, as I come into your business, I view, have view conversations with every single person that's in the organization that's selling, and I help to identify gaps. And how I do that is through emotional intelligence assessments so that I'm able to say very, very quickly where the gap is and we work on how do we grow emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is something that is being able to grow and expand it can also shrink as well. So it's really about how do you have some self-discipline and how do you work and start to think about you, and how do you grow yourself. So that's really about that it's about that self-exploration. And then what happens from that is an organic growth of sales. So you'll start to feel more confident, you'll start to feel that you're a bit more self-aware of the words that you're using and listening to the words that your customer is saying, and all those sorts of things. And what will happen is, organically, you'll start to earn better dollars and therefore the company will profit in revenue growth and profit growth.
Greg Roedersheimer: The story you told for yourself of going from graphic design to realizing travel is more of your calling. I would like to think that that speaks true to myself. So I could see me being excited and then that being a motivator to get better at sales and ultimately, if the people I'm speaking to and trying to sell to excited so I, I would imagine that you probably could tell that fairly quickly, you could sort of spot people that aren't as into it as we might be.
Nicole O'Sullivan: Yeah, it's true. I think that customer service in general, whether you're selling travel or selling a car or a house or anything, I mean, customer service is tricky. And it's hard to decipher sales cues and prompts if you're not tuned into it. And I guess that's the thing, isn't it? It's about sharpening your skills. It's about mastering your craft. There's no level in travel, or service period, that says, great, you're the master of sales. There's no such thing. You've got to continue to build on your skillset to become better and better and better. There's no clocking a level in travel or service. It's really about always working on yourself. I mean, I'm one of those people that I will go and listen to podcasts constantly on other people that are doing other things because I want to learn I want to know I'm not the best at what I, You know, I'm not that I don't know everything, I will never claim that I know everything. But I apply and stretch my mind to try different things and be open to other perspectives. And that's my self-growth. And I feel like if I could cast my mind back to 13 years ago before I walked in that door, and you told me that this was the journey I was gonna go on, and I would have lived in the United States and I have worked in eight different brands within the same organization. And now I'm starting my own business, I would have laughed in your face and said, You've got to be kidding me. So you know, it is really about that stretching yourself, be uncomfortable, and being okay to be uncomfortable. Because when you're uncomfortable, it is where why we are learning because we don't like doing something that we're not comfortable doing. So the more you can expand yourself to be uncomfortable, the more you start to stretch yourself. It's like a rubber band. The more you pull it, the more you pull it, the more it stretches, and that's how our mind is and that's why it is really important that, especially during this time, it's so easy to go into that comfortable ball and sit in your bed and go, I don't want to get out of it today. But what can you do to push yourself to stretch to, to try something different, and what will happen is your mind will start to grow. And that's really, that's really what I love to do is to push people into, you know, in an in a nice way into an uncomfortable zone in a safe zone as well, where I'm like, I'm not gonna let you fall, I promise I won't let you fall. But I am going to push you because when I do, I promise you, you'll come out the other end looking like, you know, you've never thought you could ever do that.
Greg Roedersheimer: To me the analogy is like working out, right? You don't want to push so far that you injure yourself or the next morning you can't get out of bed, which means you're never gonna do it again. But you do need to push to that level of discomfort if you're gonna see any gains.
Nicole O'Sullivan: Yeah, agreed. Yeah. So and I think the thing is at the moment is you know, we all have a human need of certainty like and because the world is a little uncertain at the moment, we start to tell ourselves stories in our minds that create certainty. So you start to tell yourself a fabricated story that makes you feel like yeah, that's right. Yeah, that must be exactly what it is. Yep. That's that I'm convinced that's what it is. And when you feed yourself with the news all day, it's feeding that fear and feeding that story to the point of you can't come back from that, or it's going to take a really hard way of turning another around. And getting out of that, that funk because you've convinced yourself so much because you need to have certainty. So that's, that's what's happening I feel at the moment is that you're either fighting or you're or you're floating and you're going down the other way. And if you're going to go down the other way, you just have to be mindful that you don't go down too far because it's hard. It's hard to not be amongst the fear because it's everywhere. So, yeah, this is why I think more than ever, I'd love to be able to help people right now through this because, you know, I'm not gonna lie. And so there are not moments that I haven't told myself stories. But, you know, I think that that's where emotional intelligence comes into it is that I'm instantly aware that I'm doing it. And I say, Okay, I'm just telling myself a story here. That's not true. It's where did I, where did I hear that? Where did they hear that? What are the facts? I don't have them. So stop telling myself a story. And that's where emotional intelligence is really important right now that you can identify that and quickly correct it so that you don't go down that hole.
Greg Roedersheimer: And let's switch gears a little bit to the potential travelers. What would you tell people that maybe haven't done anything more than going to the closest beach they can find for a week and come back and they do that once a year? The benefits of maybe expanding out into some different ways of traveling or just seeing the world differently. What, what are those benefits?
Nicole O'Sullivan: I love that quote, is it? Travel is the one thing you buy that'll always make you richer, you know, and I think that it doesn't, travel is so personal, Greg, it's people travel for so many different reasons. I can't tell. I mean, I remember a guy I booked travel for in Australia once and he was traveling around the world to follow a bird, it's a special bird, that was a really weird bird and he wanted to and I was like, okay, that's cool. It's so personal. And I think that I guess, I guess what you need to ask yourself is when you expand your mind, I guess what does travel create for you and what does it create? It creates that feeling of fulfillment, gratitude, it helps you to appreciate what you probably took for granted every day. I know, one of the top places that I've traveled to was Africa, for example. I went there and came home and thought, Oh my gosh, I just appreciate having a house and being able to be home and feel like I'm, yeah, I'm so grateful for the things that I have versus someone who doesn't even have a pencil, you know, and it was just, it does so many different things for you, but it's so personal that it is about not being afraid of different cultures not being afraid of different things out there. You've just got to give it a go and it'll change you, it'll enrich you, as I said, it gives you gratitude. It can relax you, it can create adrenalin, it's curiosity. It's breathtaking pinch yourself moments. It's just the world has so many things to offer in so many different ways for so many different people that it's really about you don't know until you go and what's the worst thing that can happen? Nothing. I mean, you go and you might hate it and you go Okay, well, I'm not going to go here again. Where else can I go? And it's just that those things you know, if you haven't been or left your state, just give it a go. Start with small steps, try a different state, and then just see what's out there.
Greg Roedersheimer: And I would tack on what you're saying about experiencing other cultures and then ultimately, giving a perspective on your own day-to-day life. Maybe good, maybe bad, but it will definitely give a perspective and like you said, even if they end up hating it, let's be honest, most of your memorable stories, especially when you're traveling abroad, are the stressful situations. I've told a story on the show before when I was 12, I believe when we were traveling to Germany, we didn't have a place to stay. My dad was booking like hostels, and Zimmer's and stuff like that along the way. And when we got to Berlin, he couldn't find anything. We would stop and ask people what hotel we could look for, and there was one called Novotel. He didn't understand what they were saying. He thought they were saying no hotels like everything was bad, so that's a story. Of course, I still remember as they're stressed in a sort of panicking that we have to stay somewhere for the night. But hey, even those kinds of stories tend to be the ones that will stick with you in your travel. And like you said, if you don't get out of your comfort zone, you could very well miss out on those kinds of experiences. From a cost standpoint, if somebody's saying, you know, what, just can't afford it. It's never going to be part of my budget. What do you tell people as a way to overcome whether there's it's a perception or reality, their budget?
Nicole O'Sullivan: Yeah, I guess a budget is a necessity obviously, we all would wish we could fly first class all the time. And, you know, I live that five-star life. I mean, that I guess the thing would be is that start with what you can afford and know that even if you have something to look forward to, and I understand that the United States is a little different than Australia, with your annual leave and your vacation time you know like we get five weeks a year minimum in Australia you guys get to. So the difference in that culture it's about what are you going to do with that two weeks and I think this COVID-19 situation has shown how much it is important to understand that yes, work is important but we have been so stuck in the hustle and bustle and grind every day that you need something to look forward to. So the greatest thing about travel is so flexible so you can book something months in advance and you just pay it off like you just, you know, cut 50 bucks a week or however, that maybe it's like what are you willing to sacrifice to grow? So it could be I'm not gonna drink alcohol for a week, you know? And you go Okay, well, that that that bottle of wine now I'll put that into my travel kit. In that way then, I can afford to go and do this. You know, my advice is definitely to look at what a destination especially if you're pinching your pennies is saying, what are the places that I can go that's going to get the best bang for my buck. And like I said, value is not price, value is a feeling, so where do you want to go and do experience and how do we, how do you talk to a travel expert and tell them look, I don't have the world's biggest budget, but this is what I want to get out of this vacation. This is what I want to feel, this is what I want to see if I close my eyes and I imagine what it's going to look like this is what it's going to look like, and then that's their job, they are craft masters right? They sit there and they go Okay, thank you for telling me what you want to do. I now see your canvas, now let me paint my canvas and I'm going to match it together and I'm going to make it happen. And it might just be the beach vacation or it might just be something but that is our job. That is what makes us so stand out to than what is online because online baits you with cheapest and we go down that road and I can probably hand on my heart tell you there are countless customers that I've worked with that have come back dissatisfied because they've booked online and unfortunately online did not meet their expectations. And that is what is important from a travel expert's perspective is that we have to know their expectations and manage your expectations to be able to meet your expectations. And if someone goes in with a price expectation, and that might fulfill it online, but it doesn't fulfill the experience expectation then that's why you leave dissatisfied. So, that is the most important thing is, what is the most thing that is important to you? What are your non-negotiables and go and speak to a travel expert. That is their role, that is their passion, and that is something that they are so good at doing is making your dream a reality and it doesn't matter the budget we make it happen.
Greg Roedersheimer: And maybe another way to look at it too is think of your travel as buying a gift. Hopefully, you're buying a gift for yourself and family or whoever's traveling with you and you wouldn't go buy a gift and look for the cheapest thing that's gonna fulfill whatever the person wants right, you're wanting it to be something that you remember and like you said, makes you richer, ultimately, when you purchase it, so maybe that's a way for people to keep that in mind that when you're gifting something to yourself, you don't want to necessarily cheap out because you don't want to get there and then realize you got what you paid for.
Nicole O'Sullivan: Yeah, a hundred percent. Oh, I can't tell you how many times you know, people have said to me, oh my god, I had a view of a dumpster for seven days. And I'm like, Yeah, well, that's not great, is it? You know on the other side you can get a beautiful ocean view and it would have looked so emotional so, you know, what's, what's the most important thing to you? And that's, that's our job is to make that when you, when you close your eyes and imagine it's it's about us making sure that we get it as close as possible to that.
Greg Roedersheimer: One last question before I let you go. Australia is definitely on my bucket list. So what would you say are the one or two things that anybody doing an Australia trip should experience or visit?
Nicole O'Sullivan: Oh wow, there are so many things Australia has so much to offer. But understanding you guys have two weeks or maybe three, I would say, Oh, look the most popular is the east coast of Australia. So really getting to see Sydney and the Barrier Reef. Melbourne, I'm from Melbourne. I'm gonna be a little bias here and say that we've got probably one of the most multicultural cities in the country. And so if you're a foodie, this is a beautiful place to visit. But we've got it all, we've got dessert, we've got beautiful coastlines, we've got the most incredible animals. You know, the Yeah, the culture here is is we're all friends. We're all friendly and love visitors and anywhere you go in Australia, it's going to enrich you, it's going to everything that you would hope to have you know to cuddle a koala, to see a kangaroo, to go and dive in the barrier reef. It's pretty incredible. It's got so much to offer. So look, yeah, if anyone wants to know about Australia, I'm more than happy to help them out.
Greg Roedersheimer: I know when we eventually do our trip, we will at least be taking two weeks, maybe longer. We'll figure it out one way or the other so,
Nicole O'Sullivan: You know you got my contact details, Greg, I'll happily help you out.
Greg Roedersheimer: Right on, that's perfect. Well, speaking of contact details, you want to go ahead and give folks your contact info where they can get ahold of you on social media, and then just any other either announcements that you have.
Nicole O'Sullivan: Absolutely. So my website is BirdsEyeViewConsulting.com and from there, you can schedule a 10-minute call with me, I can talk to you about anything that you that you're fearing at the moment, especially in the with the COVID-19 epidemic or pandemic. If you feel that you just want to have a chat, give me a call and see if we can potentially work together and I can help with giving you an assessment as well that will help you to identify areas of how you grow in your emotional intelligence. I'm also on LinkedIn. So Nicole O'Sullivan at LinkedIn and it's connected to my Bird's Eye View Consulting business. Yeah. So I mean they're, they're the two best ways to get in touch with me, Greg and I would love to be able to, to work with people especially through this and really to understand that there are ways that we can get out it's stronger than and better than ever before. And I'm excited to continue my journey. I love working with the United States. It's something I'm very passionate about. I think maybe in my previous life, I used to live there or something I don't know. But I know I'm very passionate about the USA and I feel that at the moment, everyone can use a little bit of positivity and ways that they can focus their energy on things that are a bit more you know, yeah, in that light of positivity instead of doom and gloom because I promise you, we are going to get out of this and we are going to get through to a different world but it is going to be, what we make of it, it's gonna make it even better. So, yeah, I'm excited and I've appreciated having, you having me on today. So thank you and yeah, it's been awesome.
Greg Roedersheimer: Yeah. Likewise, I appreciate you taking the time Nicole to be on the show. I will put all of your contact information in the show notes. So if folks are looking to get in touch, they should be able to do that. And again, stay safe out there, and I will talk to you later.
Nicole O'Sullivan: I will. Thanks, Greg. Thanks, everyone. Bye.
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